Access 2007 Form Design Tips (also for MS Access 2010 and 2013)
by Luke Chung,
President of FMS, Inc.
Microsoft Access 2007 introduced many new features to give Access
forms enhanced behavior and a modern look that's more Vista-like. Here
are some tips for adding these features to your application. Note that
these features also apply to Microsoft Access 2010 and 2013.
Display Tabbed Documents
Microsoft Access 2007 offers an option to use a new tabbed interface so
multiple objects (forms, reports, queries, and tables) can be opened at
once. Each object is a separate tab so users can easily see the
available objects and click on the one they want:
This option is set from the Access Options, Current Database:
NOTE: Some people or applications may prefer the traditional
Overlapping Windows which supports placing forms/objects side-by-side.
This is not available with Tabbed Documents.
Support Resizable Forms
MSAccess 2007 lets you create controls that automatically resize with
the form. Designed correctly, the controls you specify will grow and
shrink as the user resizes or maximizes the form. This is especially
handy if the user interface is set to Tabbed Documents since your forms
will be maximized to fill the entire screen. Controls can be
individually set to resize by anchoring them:
Datasheets Should Have Alternating Row Color
To make rows easier to identify, you can specify a different color
for every other row.
This option is available globally from Access Options under
Datasheet, Alternate Background Color. Or you can set it for a specific
datasheet from the Home, Font section when viewing it:
Reduce the Size of Graphics on Your Forms and Reports
If you embed graphics on your forms or reports, Access 2007 can store
them much more efficiently. MS Access 2007 can convert graphics into much
smaller PNG formats to significantly reduce the size of your databases.
This does not affect graphics already on your forms and reports but
helps if you add new graphics or replace existing ones. To activate this
feature, change an Access setting. From the Access Office button, choose
Access Options, Current Database. At the bottom of the Application
Options section, set the Picture Property Storage Format to:
Preserve source image format (smaller file size)
Caution: Do not do this if you need to support users with
older versions of Access since the graphics will not appear.
This change also impacts the transparency of picture images imported
for command buttons. If your command buttons use themes or background
colors, having transparent pictures is helpful. By default, white in
your imported pictures are transparent if you use the option to "Convert
all picture data to bitmaps (compatible with Access 2003 and earlier)".
The are not transparent (remain white), if you set the option to
Preserve source image format.
Use Windows XP Themes
If you haven't already, make sure the Use Windows-themed Controls
on Form option is checked under Access Options, Current Database.
This feature was introduced with Access 2003 and gives your command
buttons, radio buttons, and other controls a rounded more modern look.
Use Modern Fonts
If you use the sample databases that come with Access 2007, you'll
see the use Calibri and Segoe UI fonts rather than Tahoma and Verdana
fonts of before. Use the new fonts to give your forms and reports a
CAUTION: These fonts come with Office/Access 2007 but may not
be installed on user's machines if they are using earlier version of
Enhance Command Buttons
Support Hyperlink Hand over Command Buttons
Cursor On Hover property for command buttons so a hand rather than
the traditional Windows arrow appears over the command button.
Add Graphics to Command Buttons
Add graphics to Command
Buttons with Text. Before you could have graphics or text, but not
both. (If you need this feature for pre-Access 2007 deployments, use
this feature in our
Use Transparent Buttons for a more Modern Look
buttons can have transparent borders so they look flat and more like
Internet Explorer type buttons.
Here's a simple example from
Total Access Emailer
for Access 2007. Notice the transparent Command Buttons with graphics
across the top of the form and the datasheet with alternating colors
Use System Colors for Office Themes
In Access 2007, forms have color themes which can be changed globally
across all the Office products. Setting your colors properly let your
forms take advantage of these global changes. For instance, you should
use colors like:
- "Background Form" for the detail section
- "Background Light Header" for headers and footers
- "Dark Text" for labels
- "System Button Text" for command buttons
CAUTION: These colors are not backward compatible, so if you
use these in Access 2007 and your users are using an older version of
Access, these colors will appear Black, so you'll need to
programmatically modify these if you're not in Access 2007.
Microsoft Access 2007 offers a wide range of new features to help you
design applications that are much more visually appealing and
functional. Take advantage of the new power to give your Access
applications a modern, fresh look of Office/Access 2007 and Vista.